French National Front (NF) leader Marine Le Pen is being charged with inciting racial hatred for comparing Muslims praying outdoors to the Nazi occupation of France.
The charge dates back to 2010, at which time there were reports that mosques in in Paris and other cities were overcrowded, leading to people praying in the streets.
During a party rally, she said, "I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about the Second World War, if we’re talking about occupation, we can also talk about this while we’re at it, because this is an occupation of territory. It’s an occupation of swaths of territory, of areas in which religious laws apply… for sure, there are no tanks, no soldiers, but it’s an occupation all the same and it weighs on people."
An initial police investigation into the incident was dropped in 2011 but then reopened in 2013, after the European Parliament withdrew Le Pen's parliamentary immunity.
Le Pen denies the accusations, telling Europe 1 that it is "scandalous to be prosecuted for having a political opinion in the country of freedom of expression."
Her father and FN founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was convicted of speech offenses 18 times, five for repeatedly claiming that the Holocaust was only a "point of detail" during World War Two. Marine, however, has been trying to bring the party away from its association with anti-Semitism and racism, even to the point of kicking out her father.
If convicted, she could face up to a year in prison and a fine of €45,000 ($50,400 US).